Ancient & Modern Japan

16 days
from
£4,349
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Traveller ratings
4.8 / 5 from 72 reviews >
Trip code: 
AOP
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–18

Discover Japan's temples, lively cities and tranquil mountains

Ancient wooden temples, raked-pebble Zen gardens and chanting Buddhist monks juxtaposed with space-age towers, neon lights and bullet trains; Japan’s captivating blend of old and new is legendary. As we explore the southern and western stretches of Honshu, Japan's largest island, we discover the country's unique culture amongst the serene shrines and gardens of Nara and Kyoto and the rarely visited mountainous heartland of castles and spas. Our last stop is the vast and futuristic capital city of Tokyo: sprawling, inimitably busy, welcoming and extraordinary.

Highlights

  • Spot mysterious geishas in Kyoto's Gion district
  • Experience cherry blossom season or beautiful autumn colours
  • Watch the famous snow monkeys bathing in hot springs
  • Take the incredible high speed 'bullet train'
  • Explore temples in Kyoto and discover futuristic Tokyo

Key information

  • 10 nights hotels and 3 nights ryokans (traditional Japanese guesthouses) 
  • 14 days land only / 16 days flight inclusive
  • Sightseeing on foot and 2 short daywalks 
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by train, bus, metro, ferry and private minibus
  • Special cherry blossom and autumn colours departures

What's included

  • 3 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Group arrival transfer (for group flight)
  • Free departure transfer by shuttle service (from July 2018)
  • Japan Rail Pass

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request only at hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Autumn arrives in the temple gardens, Japan

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kyoto
to
Tokyo
  • Day 1

    1: Depart London

    The group flight to Kansai Airport (Osaka) departs in the afternoon from London.

  • Day 2

    Arrive Kansai; transfer to Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amid beautiful hills

    The trip starts in Kyoto, an atmospheric city set amidst beautiful hills. Those on the group flights from London will be met on arrival at Kansai Airport this evening and transferred to our hotel located in the city centre.

  • Day 3

    Morning visit to Ninjo castle and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion); afternoon guided walk through beautiful shrines and temples

    With over 2000 temples, shrines and gardens, Kyoto is a treasure house of Japan's cultural heritage and remains undoubtedly one of the most fascinating cities in Asia. Unlike many other Japanese towns it escaped the ravages of both the Second World War and modern urban development thereby keeping intact much of the spirit and architecture of traditional Japan.

    Today we have an introductory tour of the city, starting with a visit to the impressive Nijo castle, built in 1603 as a residence for the Tokugawa shoguns, and the famous Golden Temple of Kinkakuji, built in 1397 as a summer villa for the shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga and immortalised in Mishima Yukio's novel, 'The Golden Pavilion'.

    At lunch we will head back to central Kyoto for a stroll at the famous Nishiki Market, known 'Kyoto's Kitchen', which specialises in all things food related and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi. Those who wish may opt to take a leisurely lunch at one of the local restaurants in the area or rest at the hotel. Later in the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to visit the stunning Kiyomiduzera temple and walk to historic Gion, Kyoto's most famous geisha district. Packed with bars, restaurants and traditional teahouses, Gion is at its most atmospheric in the early evening, when the lanterns are lit and apprentice geisha will flit about the back streets on their way to their appointments.

  • Day 4

    Day trip to Nara, ancient capital of Japan. Visit impressive UNESCO temples including Toda-ji, housing the world's largest bronze statue of the Buddha

    Today we make a day trip to Japan's ancient capital, Nara (approx. 1hr each way). With eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it's second only to Kyoto as a repository of Japan's cultural legacy. Our walking tour includes a visit to the most iconic temples and shrines, including Todaiji Great Buddha temple. Built in 752 by the Emperor Shomu this enormous 15 meters tall bronze Buddha is housed in what is reputed to be the largest wooden building in the world. We also spend time in the Nara Koen park, famous for its large numbers of overfed and slightly unruly deer, and visit the attractive Kasuga Shinto shrine, before returning to Kyoto in the late afternoon.

  • Day 5

    Free day in Kyoto; relax in one of the many zen gardens, walk the popular Philospher Path or experience a traditional tea ceremony

    Today is a free day for individual sightseeing. With so much to see and do in Kyoto it can be difficult to know where to begin. Our advice is to start with a very early visit to Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto's most important Shinto shrine and famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. Getting there before the crowds at sunrise is the secret for a magical experience.

    The rest of the day could be spent exploring one of the several well established and easy-to-follow walking tours that take in many interesting sights. The eastern part of Kyoto is particularly rich in temples and gardens, and one can spend the day in this area, perhaps strolling along the tree-lined canal known as the Philosophers' Path and taking time out for contemplation in one of the many intriguing Zen gardens that dot the hillsides.

    Another day-trip to consider would be to Arashiyama, a pleasant tourist district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and autumn colour seasons.

    If you are interested in Japanese arts and cultural activities, there is also the option of visiting a cultural show to see some of Japan's ancient traditions such as the tea ceremony and Japanese theatre (these can be arranged locally by your tour leader and subject to availability).

  • Day 6

    Day trip to Hiroshima; visit Peace Memorial Park and the pretty island of Miyajima

    Today is our first experience of Japan's 'shinkansen (bullet train)' as we speed our way to Hiroshima for the day (approx. 2hrs each way). Once in Hiroshima, we make a short excursion by local tram and ferry to the beautiful island of Miyajima; famous for the 'floating' tori (Shinto gate) of the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. At high tide, when set against the backdrop of Mt Misen, this tori makes for one of the most beautiful and photogenic sights in Japan.

    In the afternoon we spend time at the A-Bomb museum and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, both monuments to the fateful day in August 1945 when the city was selected as the target for the world's first wartime use of the atomic bomb. In the park burns a symbolic flame that will only be extinguished when the last nuclear weapon on earth has been destroyed. We depart Hiroshima late afternoon arriving back at our hotel in the evening.

  • Day 7

    Travel from Kyoto to Takayama, a traditional old town set amid the 'Japanese Alps'; visit the Hida Folk Village; overnight in ryokan

    Travelling by train through forested valleys we make our way this morning to the peaceful and attractive old town of Takayama (approx. 4 hrs) nestling sleepily in the centre of the majestic Hida Mountains. We spend two nights here and have plenty of time to appreciate the charm and ambience of this delightful place. In the afternoon we visit the Hida Folk Village, an interesting outdoor museum of traditional rural architecture set in pleasant landscaped garden, located a short walk from our accommodation. We stay in a traditional ryokan (Japanese guesthouse) where we have the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle and hospitality (please refer to the accommodation section for more information).

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 8

    Orientation tour in Takayama and free day to explore its peaceful shrines and temples; second night in ryokan

    With over a dozen museums and galleries to suit all interests and several well-kept temples and parks, there are plenty of ways to spend a relaxing day in Takayama. We start with a short orientation tour around the morning market held daily along the banks of the Miyagawa River in the centre of town. Here amidst the friendly farmers with their familiar, and not so familiar, agricultural produce it is also possible to find some interesting souvenirs. Not so far away and of particular interest is the well-preserved collection of streets known as Sannomachi, where the many wooden built shops, restaurants and sake breweries give the area a mediaeval feel. For an insight into the life of medieval Japanese officials and the way they dealt (often not so compassionately) with those in their charge, a visit to the old Government House of Takayama-jinya is recommended. The remainder of the day is free to explore the town at your own pace: we recommend taking a stroll along the temple-line path called the Higashiyama Walkway and visit the several temples and attractions created by the mediaeval warlord, Kanamori Nagachika (1524-1600), who longed for Kyoto.

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 9

    On to the mediaeval village of Tsumago; short leisurely walk in the Nakasendo trail; train to Matsumoto

    Today we travel by express and local trains to the historic castle town of Matsumoto (approx. 4hrs). Enroute, we visit the mediaeval village of Tsumago that has changed little from its heyday as a post town in the Edo period. This is the best preserved of the many staging posts along the old Nakasendo Way, which fulfils the same role it did in centuries past - offering food and refuge to travellers. Those who wish can join the leader for an optional 1hr walk through peaceful forest trails, starting by the Odaki and Medaki waterfalls and finishing in Tsumago. We reach Matsumoto late afternoon where we have time to relax and perhaps take a leisurely stroll after dinner to see the impressive castle by night.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Visit the famous Matsumoto Castle and travel by train to spa town of Yudanaka; soak in a hot spring

    This morning we visit the impressive Matsumoto castle. Founded in 1504, this castle, otherwise known as Crow Castle due to its black colour, is one of the two best preserved in Japan, most others having been destroyed following the Meiji Restoration. Its imposing six story donjon has been designated a national treasure. Please note that the castle preserves its original interior and structure, with very tall steps and steep staircases which some might find difficult to ascend and descend. We return to Matsumoto train station for our afternoon journey (approx. 3hrs) to the relaxing spa town of Yudanaka, where we spend a night in another Japanese-style hotel boasting some fantastic natural hot springs.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 11

    See the famous Snow Monkeys before travelling by train to Tokyo; evening orientation tour

    As well as being home to some of Japan's best hot springs, the small spa-town of Yudanaka is mainly famous for being the gateaway to the famous Jigokudani Onsen or 'Snow Monkey Park'. Here, the indigenous macaque monkeys have discovered the benefits of descending from the hills to soak and play in hot baths - observing their behaviour up close is fascinating! This is the only tribe of monkeys anywhere in the world to bath in hot springs for warmth. The sight is most spectacular in winter, when snow covers the grounds and the hot steam creates some amazing visual effects but despite the name, the so called 'snow monkeys' actually inhabit the area year-round. To reach the park we walk for approx. 20-25 mins on an easy forest trail and we will have approx. 1hr free to admire and photograph these entertaining creatures.

    No visit to Japan would be complete without a trip to Tokyo. This afternoon, we travel from Yudanaka to the capital by bullet train (approx. 4hrs), arriving in the early evening. On arrival in Tokyo we'll transfer to our hotel and start exploring the bright lights of the big city at night.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Optional trip to Hakone or to the lovely seaside town of Kamakura

    For those wishing to see still more of this wonderful country, today is the last day of your Japan Rail Pass, entitling you to free train journeys to many destinations. One popular day-trip amongst tourists and Japanese alike looking for a break from Tokyo is Hakone, part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 1hr and 30 mins by train. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone area also encompasses Lake Ashi, which can be toured by boat.

    Another alternative blissful escape from the city is the coastal town of Kamakura, offering numerous temples, shrines, historical monuments as well as panoramic hiking trails.

    For those not wishing to leave Tokyo, this day is free to soak up the atmosphere of this truly astounding city. Whilst being perhaps the most  energetic and futuristic city in the world, for a capital, Tokyo still remains a remarkably friendly, safe, manageable and delightful place to visit.

  • Day 13

    A full day city tour of Tokyo including the Senso-ji Temple

    Today we have a guided tour of Tokyo. Making use of the city's highly efficient tube system we can visit some of Tokyo's main attractions including Ueno (depending on season) and the lively Senso-ji Temple in the old entertainment district of Asakusa. We will also visit one of the city's parks or gardens which become especially spectacular during cherry blossom and autumn season. There is also some free time to discover other attractions at your own pace. For those with a head for heights we recommend an optional visit to the iconic Skytree Tower for breathtaking views of the city. With a height of 634 meters, it is the tallest building in Japan and the second tallest structure in the world at the time of its completion. In the evening, the possibilities for entertainment are almost limitless with Tokyo's nightlife as exciting as anywhere in Asia.

  • Day 14

    Free day for further exploration; optional karaoke farewell night

    Today has been left free for further individual exploration of Tokyo. We recommend starting the day with an early visit to the famous Tsukiji Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It handles more than 400 different types of seafood from cheap seaweed to the most expensive caviar, and from tiny sardines to 300 kg tuna and controversial whale species. Worth visiting is also Meiji Shrine; sourrounded by tranquil forest, this Shinto shrine is one of the most popular in Japan and combines traditional Japanese architecture with love for the nature. For an alternative and unconventional experience, head to the Cat Café in Ikebukuro. Finally, those interested in shopping have limiteless opportunities with districts like Ginza, Harajuku and Shinjuku catering for all tastes and needs!

  • Day 15

    Depart Tokyo

    Those on the group flights will be transferred to Tokyo airport this evening for the daytime flight to London. Please note that although late check out is not included in the cost of the trip, the hotel provides free lugagge storage facilities. 

  • Day 16

    Arrive London

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Japan

Most nationalities do not require a visa to visit Japan. Australian and South African passport holders do require a visa; these will usually be issued on arrival but it is worth verifying this at your embassy before travel.

Vaccinations

Japan

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

3 breakfasts and 3 dinners included.

Japanese cuisine is usually one of the main highlights of any trip to Japan. It is based on rice with miso soup and other dishes which are usually prepared with seasonal ingredients. Seafood is very is common, and it usually comes grilled or deep fried. Sushi and sashimi aside, other staple dishes include Soba or Udon noodles, Sukiyaki (meat, fish and vegetables cooked in broth) and Yakiniku (grilled meat).

The included dinners are usually taken at ryokans (traditional guesthouses) which will serve a kaiseki style dinner, a multi-course meal including a dozen of tiny dishes prepared with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. When food is not included, your leader will always be on hand to recommend the best local eateries and arrange some group meals for a full immersion in Japan's varied and excellent cuisine. 

Please note that in Japan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free, strict vegetarian (no fish/seafood) or vegan is minimal or non-existent. The group meals arranged by the tour leader will be in traditional eateries where the choices of vegan dishes may be limited to simple salads or boiled rice. However in Kyoto and Tokyo a number of vegan restaurants are available.  It may also be a good idea to bring with you some foodstuffs that you normally consume, or to supplement meals with snacks purchased in the local convenience stores.

Weather

Japan has four very distinct seasons. Our aim has been to avoid the extremely cold winters and humid summers and settle for the more pleasant climes of spring and autumn. In Tokyo, September and October are warm, maximum temperatures are 26ºC and minimum 12ºC. September is likely to be the warmer of the two and there is a likelihood of rain. April is cooler with temperatures possibly going as low as 7ºC with a high of 17ºC. Kyoto is very similar climatically to Tokyo but the higher up into the mountains we venture, the colder it will become with nights being especially cold, particularly in March and November.

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level 2- Leisurely/Moderate

This is very much a cultural trip which attempts to encompass the varying aspects of Japan, from the serenity and history of Kyoto to the electrifying and modern Tokyo. You will walk mostly in cities and towns and although not strenuous, the amount of walking each day can be considerable and fast-paced (good comfortable walking shoes are recommended). A lot of temples and shrines will be visited during the trip, most of which are built on hillsides. This will mean ascending and descending lots of steps.

All transport will be by public transport and mainly trains which are extremely efficient. Therefore, it is essential that all group members are punctual to ensure we do not miss any of the scheduled services. Some of the distances covered are long but trains are very comfortable making the journey pleasant. As Japanese trains usually have little room for storing bags, we will be carrying only our daypack/overnight bag for the two nights in Takayama and one night in Yudanaka. One piece of baggage per person, will be transferred by courier service from Kyoto to Matsumoto and then on to Tokyo.

Please note that the the order of activities in Kyoto and Tokyo may change depending on the weather conditions and other factors. Your tour leader will provide full details of the schedule during the initial trip briefing.

 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and Ryokans

In Kyoto, Matsumoto and Tokyo, our hotels are centrally located and of a high standard with excellent modern facilities and English speaking staff. 

For three nights during the trip we stay in ryokans; comfortable traditional inns where we are able to get a close feel for the timeless rhythms and customs of the Japanese countryside. Ryokans, whilst comfortable and full of local character, do not run along the same lines as western hotels. Rooms do not generally have private facilities and bedding is usually in the Japanese style with thick futon mattresses placed on tatami mats on the floor. Rooms are always doubles or twin-share but bathrooms and showers are generally communal. 

A single supplement can be pre-booked for 9 nights' hotel accommodation in Kyoto (5 nights) and Tokyo (4 nights) only. The single supplement is payable at the time of booking and subject to availability. Elsewhere a single supplement may be available locally on payment of a supplement. However, as some of the ryokans and other hotels used are quite small, this cannot be guaranteed.

Please note that free Wi-Fi is available at every hotel.

Please be advised that the below accommodation listed in each location are just a list of the standard hotels used from July 2018 onwards. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

Kyoto:  Kyoto Tower Hotel

Takayama:  Chogoro House

Matsumoto: Dormy Inn

Yudanaka: Biyuno Yado Ryokan

Tokyo: Shinjuku Washington

Onsen (Japanese public bath)
For many visitors to Japan the onsen is a somewhat unfamiliar territory. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them. The combination of a strict bathing etiquette, that nudity is involved and compulsory, and that the water temperature is often hotter than most Jacuzzis can cause some reluctance for first timers. However, once the courage is mustered, you may discover that a dip in an onsen is likely to become one of the highlights of your visit to Japan. We will have the opportunity to try an onsen at our ryokan in Takayama, and some indoor and outdoor hot springs at our accommodation in Yudanaka. Please be aware you may be refused entry if you have large and visible tattoos. Some accommodations may have private baths available for reservation.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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  • Reviewed August 2018
    Lynne Hopkins

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed Kyoto. One of the reasons I want to return to Japan is to spend some more time in Kyoto. One of the highlights was the first sighting of Mount Fuiji - from the bullet train. Don’t think you can get more iconic than that. I enjoyed Matsumoto. I could have spent another day / half day there. Standing in Hiroshima at the iconic site of the exhibition hall was thought provoking. Takayama was good. Actually there wasn’t a location I didn’t like. I omitted the trip to see the snow monkeys though, choosing to spend a morning in Obuse instead to visit the Hokusai museum and wander round the town before rejoining the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa was wonderful. So calm, patient and organised. Nothing was too much trouble. She helped me plan out the train journey to Obuse. She did a good job of herding us and keeping us together, especially in the face of one or two individuals who didn’t always appreciate the importance of timing and one who I think was seeking travel advice for an extended stay that was over and above Misa’s remit.....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip. Was a once in a life time for me but I would love to return. Japan was everything I expected and more.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Lynne Hopkins

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed Kyoto. One of the reasons I want to return to Japan is to spend some more time in Kyoto. One of the highlights was the first sighting of Mount Fuiji - from the bullet train. Don’t think you can get more iconic than that. I enjoyed Matsumoto. I could have spent another day / half day there. Standing in Hiroshima at the iconic site of the exhibition hall was thought provoking. Takayama was good. Actually there wasn’t a location I didn’t like. I omitted the trip to see the snow monkeys though, choosing to spend a morning in Obuse instead to visit the Hokusai museum and wander round the town before rejoining the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa was wonderful. So calm, patient and organised. Nothing was too much trouble. She helped me plan out the train journey to Obuse. She did a good job of herding us and keeping us together, especially in the face of one or two individuals who didn’t always appreciate the importance of timing and one who I think was seeking travel advice for an extended stay that was over and above Misa’s remit.....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip. Was a once in a life time for me but I would love to return. Japan was everything I expected and more.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Helen & Joe Winkler

    Great Trip

    We had booked this trip to mark our 40th wedding anniversary and it did not disappoint. The travel arrangements all worked very well and our accommodation was of a very good standard. We had a brilliant guide, who introduced us to a series of memorable experiences, including our first taste of authentic Japanese cooking. The trip lived up to our expectations and was very much in line with what had been set out in the Trip Notes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In no particular order...... Seeing Mt Fuji appear through the clouds Travelling on the Shinkansen......seriously quick! Seeing the contrast between the countryside and the built up areas as we travelled around Walking The Philosophers Path in Kyoto.....very peaceful Seeing the macaques at Yukanada...the babies in particular were very entertaining Experiencing early morning rush hour on the Tokyo Metro Appreciating the cleanliness of the country...no litter to be seen anywhere Feeling welcome in a strange land

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa is an excellent leader and nothing was too much trouble for her. She went out of her way to make sure that we all enjoyed our time in Japan. On arriving in our hotel room in Kyoto on the first evening, we found that she had left us a card and gift for our anniversary. The daily arrangements for travel were a masterclass in organisation, always done with a smile. Misa gave up her own time to make sure that we could all make the most of our free days. Some of the group found the food choices challenging, so Misa put a lot of effort into finding dishes to suit their dietary requirements. We learned a lot about Japanese culture and history from Misa and her charm and grace was simply an extension of how we were received by Japanese people in general.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Realise that the food in Japan is totally different from what you are used to. Read the Trip Notes carefully and bring your own snacks and/or be prepared to shop in the local small supermarkets. We had never eaten Japanese before and found that most things were delicious. Everywhere you go, the toilets are spotless. Most do not have hand dryers or paper towels, so do as the Japanese do and carry a small towel or flannel with you for hand drying. There is quite a bit of walking and steps, so make sure you have your walking legs on!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It’s a great experience, well worth trying.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Rita Manni

    An unforgettable holiday

    I loved this trip! We have seen a variety of places and we have learnt learn so much about the Japanese culture. Overall this trip is well organised and I thing that there is a good balance between free and organised time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed staying at the ryokans, the meals we had there and the onsen experience. The most memorable temple was Daishō-in on the island of Miyajima. The atmosphere was amazing and it felt very spiritual. I found the visit to Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum very touching It was great to be able to see the snow mountain monkeys and spot Mt Fuji from our hotel room window in Tokyo! I loved all the food that we have been able to try Last but not least I loved the kindness and the composure of the Japanese people, their respect towards other people and nature, the technology, the cleanliness ... In a nutshell, I will treasure every moment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa is very organised, knowledgeable, kind and patient. She was very attentive and always made sure we were all right. She has given us very good tips of what to do in our free time. One evening, when she should have been free to rest, she has accompanied me and my husband to the district of Gion in Kyoto's as we had not been able to go with the rest of the group on the previous evening due to personal commitments. She also accompanied the group to Hakone for a day trip on her free day. She has definitively go out of her to ensure all the participants had a good time and has thought us a lot of the Japanese culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In our group there were people with very specific dietary needs. I think that they have found it a bit difficult at times to find the right food for them. People with special dietary needs (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, coeliac) might find it a bit challenging to find the right food for them at all times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to go back one day!
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Jim and Rachel

    The serene and the frantic

    A good balance of the ancient and modern, as the trip title suggests. Travelling by public transport helps to convey the flavour of "normal" life in the country rather than a whistle-stop tour of "tourist" destinations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The overall sense of order and respect for others, even in crowded city centres. The attention given to presentation - of food and everything else.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka took great trouble to ensure we optimised our time by being fully prepared: helpful annotated maps, advice on tickets, and so forth. She took us to a variety of types of restaurant for the optional meals, which are not in the programme, but where in fact the majority of the group chose to eat together. And she was great fun !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't worry about whether it's cherry blossom time: there are plenty of beautiful sights anyway. Be prepared to pay cash for meals if the group eat together.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The first ryokan didn't quite live up to expectations; it was in a more urban environment than we'd imagined.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Grahame Erskine

    A great experience, a wonderful country and an amazing tour leader.

    A fantastic tour with so much to see in such a short time. Our group leader (Ayaka Tsukamoto) kept us informed of historical and cultural details throughout the tour and she also went out of her way to ensure that everybody was able to get what they wanted from the free time available..

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to choose any single inspirational moment from the serenity of the temples when you got away from the crowds, the friendliness of the people or the rush you feel when bullet trains go shooting through the stations at high speed. However, we were lucky to have fantastic views of Mount Fuji on a fun jaunt around Hakone on the various modes of transport.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto was a brilliant tour leader who was tireless in her enthusiasm and commitment to ensuring we had a fantastic and fulfilling tour. Even on our free days she helped by ensuring we used the most effective transport to maximise our time and in recommending places to visit and where to eat. She took us to restaurants that we would not normally have chosen and these were some of the best restaurants that provided us with great experiences along with the authentic cuisine. Throughout the tour she kept us informed of historical and cultural details and amused us with her anecdotes that gave us an insight into growing up in Japan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a tour with lots of walking and some long days so that you get the most out of your time on holiday. Using public transport gives you more contact with the friendly Japanese people and is much more ecological than using coaches.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Jane Twohig

    AOP 180512

    I have just returned from AOP 180512,it was quite a rewarding trip, we saw lots in our travels there was great variety from the rural countryside and small towns to the wonder that is Tokyo.It might be an idea to indicate in the title that travel is exclusively by train (AOP......by train).We had the most fantastic hotel in Kyoto, our hotel in Tokyo was very good also,both were next door to the subway which made travelling around very easy,all train stations have english signs and announcements.There are many many historical and cultural sights to visit and lots of shopping opportunities. This country has everything. It also feels very safe,people can leave their belongings unattended. I witnessed this on several occasions. There are lots of food options also.......

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many moments that come to mind Mount Fuji appearing out of the cloud. The hustle and bustle of Tokyo Visiting Hiroshima Travel by bullet train

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour leader Ayaka Tsukamoto looked after us all very well. She is particularly good at her job,we were always kept supplied with maps that had all the places of interest marked and any other information that we requested. I have a food allergy and she took particular care that food was always suitable for me.I especially thank her for that.......

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack your bags and go....
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Helen Polom

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    A wonderful trip , accompanied by a great bunch of fellow travellers and a guide who made it her job to ensure that we all got the best out of it. We could not possibly have achieved so much in so short a time without the company of our exceptional guide Ayaka who just made everything work like clockwork in the nicest possible way. The whole trip was truly exceptional. Excellent hotel accommodation in Kyoto and Tokyo. The Ryokans are quirky and a good experience of yet another cultural difference. The food at the ryokans was amazing, beautifully presented and a feast for the senses.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day provided us with an inspirational moment- In Kyoto the beautiful garden at the Silver Palace, coming across a Geisha in the lamplight outside a tea house, exploring tiny Zen gardens at the minor temples, waiting to begin the most beautifully arranged food all of which is completely alien in looks and flavour. Tokyo, a city of contrasts. It is epic in size and yet manageable via its incredible transport system. Something weird and wacky on every corner. Owl cafes??? Japan has the appearance of familiarity and yet is so culturally different.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was energetic and enthusiastic. Always on hand to help us make the most of every moment of the trip. Her attention to detail was second to none, ensuring that we managed the busy itinerary and navigated transport systems with ease. In the major cities she provided us with a guide and a transport map that she had annotated with the major sites and suggestions for quirky areas to visit. Always with a smile and an infectious laugh. She gave her time to every person on the trip ensuring that we all gained a personal experience of her country. Her knowledge and information giving was always just enough for us to gain an insight and understanding of the sight or area we were visiting yet she was always willing to expand further to individuals with specific questions. Ayaka was an excellent guide and we would not hesitate to recommend her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is a lot of walking and the pace is fast so you need comfortable and water proof shoes Take an umbrella or buy one when you arrive. When it rains it can be torrential! Be prepared for early starts and very long days. You will often not return to the hotel before 9pm. If you have particular interests research them before you go and your guide will help you to locate shops or museums. Take a good guide book as you will have a free day in Kyoto and another in Tokyo. If you are on the group flight home you will not leave the hotel until 5pm so you have effectively a 2nd free day. Your guide will also be incredibly helpful. Just ask. Breakfasts are not provided. Eating out is possible but local stores sell yoghurts, fruit and some even oats and muesli so easy to have breakfast in your room. The local bakeries are fantastic. The Akibukuro station close to the Tokyo Hotel has an excellent supermarket and takeaway food dept. Consider adding additional days to the end of your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip was one of our best. If we didn't have the rest of the world to explore we would return to Japan next year!
  • Reviewed May 2018
    channa ariyadasa

    JOYOUS Japan

    i have been fortunate in doing many trips around the world and i would say that Japan is one of the top 3 countries - why the trip covers the old and extensive past history of Japan - from Shoguns (rather violent times but magnificent buildings, and beautiful artwork) to Hiroshima (moving), and the modern with Tokyo, a city of 13million, and clearly the inspiration for Blade Runner neon city (but without the fog) Japanese people, polite, honesty, impeccable service (only place where you really want to leave a tip - but not allowed too as considered rude), always helpful to lost tourist. I have never visited a country where i have felt so safe at any time of the day

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Hiroshima display was moving. The Silver pavilion in Kyoto, its makes you realise a garden does not have to be just lawn, so beautiful and peacefull But I come back to the Japanese people, I dropped my watch at a Station and some young person ran after me to hand back the watch to me and didnt even wait for me to say thank you

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto Clearly in the top 3 of tour leaders i have had with Exodus (around 20 trips) the effort she put in to make sure the trip was wonderful was amazing. On our days off - she spent time making sure we could see everything we wanted and the best way to achieve it i mentioned, just in passing, whether there was an english language Japanese paper - next day there was one at my hotel door we where given guides for each city and in each guide, by hand, each page was circled with things of interest and what would be covered in the tour and where we could go on our days off Ayaka is a very lovely person and was laughing all the time - we were very very lucky to have her Channa

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In Toyko there is two underground companies (Metro/ Toel) and i recommend instead of I/c Pass that you purchase from the ticket office , a metro/toel pass (800 yen- if you have your passport, 900 yen otherwise). Though you can get unused money back from I/C card for 200 yen fee - i found that i kept hopping on and off the tube (easiest way to navigate the city) and would have saved money with the pass Bring an umbrella and good waterproof for the daybag - when it rains it rains heavy all day - there is a reason why Japan is so lush and green
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Gillian Waters

    Fascinating culture, country, food & people

    What we loved about the trip: travelling by excellent, clean & efficient public transport rather than buses. Good mix of tempkes, activities and scenery. Noku hotel in Kyoto was our favourite hotel, excellent location. The people were very friendly, courteous, respectful and helpful. Loved Kyoto and the alps. Tokyo was very tiring. Our guide Ayaka Tsukamoto was very friendly, extremely helpful, great sense of humour, brilliant organisational skills and imparted the right amount of infirmation. What we didn’t like about the trip: Only organise one meal in the first Ryokan instead of 2. The second Ryokan banquet meal was good but the accommodation was very, very old, tired and not very nice at all. The onsens were disappointing too. The description of these experiences didn’t match the reality. Loved the idea of staying in a Ryokan but you need to find better ones, maybe with a nice garden.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people, culture, efficiency of the transportation system and the food. We organised a trip ourselves to see the Sumo which was excellent and a major highlight. We adored Kyoto and the geishas, the little old streets and the Noku hotel was our favourite of the trip. We loved the alps and the scenery too. Our favourite temple of the trip was a slightly weird one on Miyajimi island which our guide recommended- excellent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely brilliant. Very friendly, organised, great sense of humour, always made sure everyone was OK and knew how to get to things they wanted to do in their spare time. She was hilarious, great fun and showed us many thinfs we would never have seen on our own. Would have liked to have known a bit more about Japanese peopke’s lives and how things work e.g. health service but it’s very difficult when using public transport. It’s not like being on a bus for hours with the whole group when such information coud be shared with everyone at the same time. Ayaka was always happy to answer our individual questions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Hakone trip. We didn’t and regretted it. I think it should be part of the itinerary rather than an option. Trip notes need updating. Easy to obtain cash from Seven Eleven stores so you don’t need to being loads of cash. We used cards quite easily for meals etc, just not small purchases. We spent a lot less than expected. Wifi was excellent in all types of lodgings. Tip! Use the hotel’s mobile phone in Tokyo and fiwnload the Tokyo metro and google maps. Brilliant! Saved us a lot of time. Tip! Buy a 2 or 3 day metro/subway card. It aaves a lot of money and makes moving around a lot eadier. You need your passport to purchase one though. Book Sumo tickets if it’s on. Very interesting and brilliant fun.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

Call us on 020 8772 3936